International agencies join forces to combat spam

Source: Office of Fair Trading

According to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), global cooperation on network security, law enforcement and heightened consumer awareness is critical to help shield internet users from spam.

Consumer protection, data protection and telecommunications agencies from over 20 countries have gathered at a conference hosted by the OFT and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in London. Their aim is to promote cross-border cooperation on spam and spam-related problems, such as on-line fraud and computer viruses.

Brightmail, a supplier of anti-spam software has estimated that over 60per cent of all e-mail traffic can be classified as spam, up from under half in 2003. It estimated that over 80 per cent of spam received by UK internet users originates from overseas, making cross-border collaboration on enforcement essential.

The conference will include sessions on comparing the enforcement powers of different government agencies and departments; effective collection of evidence; cooperation with the private sector on initiatives to combat spam; and devising a practical framework for international law enforcement through bilateral and multilateral agreements between enforcement agencies. The conference will conclude with a best practice training seminar hosted by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN).

“Spam is international and needs global cooperation. Developing a consistent approach to enforcement is a necessary step towards tackling the problem. But there are limits to what can be done by regulation and the communications industry has made great efforts to find technical solutions to spam. It is also important for businesses and individuals to keep up to date with improvements and developments in technical blocks and filters,” says Richard Thomas, UK Information Commissioner.

“This gathering is unique not only because it is the first international meeting of spam enforcers, but also because our participants represent diverse organisations,” adds Deborah Majoras, FTC Chairman. “We are all united, however, by a common goal: to stop deceptive and fraudulent spam from flooding our email boxes, threatening our data security, and undermining e-mail’s effectiveness as a tool for commerce and communication.”

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